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Optimism In Aussie Retail Sector Hits 10-Year-High: Deloitte

Four out of five Australian retailers are expecting to see sales growth this year, and most expect trading conditions to keep improving, as Australia moves out of lockdown and into a holiday season spending frenzy.

This is according to Deloitte’s annual Retailers Christmas Survey, which retailer sentiment for the approaching Christmas period. The survey shows more optimism in the retail sector this Christmas than during any other time in its decade-long survey.

52 per cent of retailers still impacted by lockdowns expect sales to “bounce back rapidly”, while 42 per cent believe new product ranges and personalised marketing will be the most important focus areas to boost sales once in-person shopping returns.

Being forced to trade online will have knock on benefits for most: 60 per cent of Australian retailers expect more than half of their Christmas sales will be digitally enabled in some way.

Deloitte’s National Leader of the Retail, Wholesale & Distribution Group, David White, said: “Australian retail has been on a genuine rollercoaster ride since the onset of COVID-19, with supercharged demand in some market segments and others heavily impacted by lockdowns and changes in consumer habits.

“Agility became key, and many pivoted quickly by building out online distribution networks and investing in logistics, ecommerce, analytics and CRM to tide them over.”

“Digital offerings are likely here to stay, but Christmas has always been about the physical shopping experience and, as the vaccine-led reopening and recovery takes hold and retailers welcome cashed-up customers back to their stores, they finally feel they have something to be optimistic about,” White said.

“And, with customers fatigued by months of lockdown when they step out and into stores, retailers offering new product ranges, personalised marketing, seamless experiences across all channels, and anything ‘new and different’, are most likely to be the winners this holiday season.”

It’s not all Christmas cheer, though.

55 per cent of retailers are concerned about having enough stock to tide them over, while 72 per cent have been slugged with increased shipping fees that are “having a material impact” on their input costs.

“Global supply chains have come under pressure as the world’s consumers emerge from the pandemic, and Australia is not immune from the fallout,” White said.

“There is cautious optimism on this front, but still concerns about sufficient stock being available for peak Christmas trading.

“And while consumer demand is expected to be strong, higher freight costs and the on-going requirements to ensure COVID-safe retail environments means there will be ongoing pressures on margins. Skills shortages, particularly.in digital and supply chain, are also on the minds of many.”


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